The first Pitch Perfect film was a huge surprise for me. I never saw it in theaters, but I watched it shortly after the sequel came out and I found myself really enjoying it. It was a familiar formula with a refreshing spin, and it had excellent comedy and charisma. The sequel was more of a phone-in that didn’t live up to the original but still had its moments. I was actually looking forward to Pitch Perfect 3, despite the fact that the trailers didn’t really sell me and I wondered how they’d be able to continue the story without reverting to another rehash of Bring It On.
I can assure you that this third film in the hopefully now complete trilogy does not feel like a retread. In fact, it actually takes a very different turn, but it’s a strange one that doesn’t work at all for the film. I had to include “action” as a tag for this review because it pretty much is an action movie. There’s a really rocky subplot featuring John Lithgow, who plays the father of Rebel Wilson’s character, and at first I thought it was an interesting attempt at a message about father-daughter relationships (Anna Camp’s father plays into the story as well, which could have made for a heartfelt dynamic), but it quickly turns into something totally unexpected and completely wrong.
It feels like once any franchise gets far along enough, no matter the subject and no matter how unique it is, it always finds a way to incorporate spy action into the series. Some franchises do it better than others, and some franchises fail miserably. For some reason, the last act of Pitch Perfect 3 is filled with explosions and wannabe James Bond fight scenes, and it comes completely out of left field. As soon as it’s time to sing, though, all the characters forget that they were just being held captive, and that Rebel Wilson whipped out her martial arts skills that I guess she’s always had.
When it’s not being an action thriller, Pitch Perfect 3 is just one big music video. It’s a series of montages and enough covers of popular songs to fill up the soundtrack. There isn’t heart, there aren’t any character arcs, and any depth that the first movie had is gone. The Pitch Perfect trilogy is a lighthearted one about an a capella group, so I don’t expect the complexity or the social commentary that can be found in The Godfather. The first movie had a surprising amount of heart, though, and its characters were relatable. I cared about their struggle, even though I’m not a part of a competitive singing group myself.
Pitch Perfect 3 has enjoyable moments, and the music is still well done, but it’s a huge step down after the surprisingly entertaining first film and even the disappointing sequel. The comedy rarely lands, and Rebel Wilson’s Fat Any character that was once clever is now just annoying and overused. Most of the actors don’t even seem like they want to be there, and the characters are the heart of the comedy. It was their charm and chemistry that made the first film so fun, and that’s all missing from this movie. It was replaced by extra music and empty subplots, and Rebel Wilson uses sausage links as nunchucks.
— Camden McDonald